It’s That Thyme of Year…
Summer herbs are revered for flavoring fruits, vegetables and long cool drinks. If you’re not already growing some of your own, come down to the farmers market and find fresh-cut bunches ready to go.
Herbs are the fragrant leaves of plants that do not have a woody stem. Dried herbs are more potent than fresh but lose their pungency after 6 months. You can substitute 1 teaspoon of dry herb for 1 tablespoon of fresh.
Here is a list of some of the most common herbs.
Basil is particularly alluring and a must with nice thick slices of vine-ripened tomatoes. Most prevalent is the sweet or common basil, and a favorite choice for making pesto. Herb gardens may boast other varieties including purple opal basil and lemon, cinnamon or anise flavored basils.
Cilantro or Chinese parsley are leaves of the coriander plant (which also produces coriander seeds). As a member of the parsley family, the leaves are lacy but flat with a stronger flavor and aroma than parsley.
Rosemary, sage and thyme are the grilling herbs of summer. Sprigs of each can be placed between meats and vegetables on a skewer or set on the coals to smoke.
Mint leaves just make iced tea and mojitos better on a hot day.
Oregano complements many tomato-based recipes like pizza and pasta. Combine chopped leaves with olive oil to create your own marinade for chicken, lamb and beef dishes.
Dill plants provide feathery green leaves (the herb) and the flat, oval fruits produce the dill seed spice. Loosely chop the leaves to add to salmon dishes, mix with sour cream for a dip and combine with eggs in salads. Dill seeds are used to make tasty pickles.
Tarragon offers a hint of licorice and used widely in French cuisine (fish, chicken, vinaigrettes and sauces). It’s an essential ingredient in Bearnaise sauce and popularly used in flavored vinegars.
The Orinda farmers’ market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Orinda Way in Orinda Village. More information is available at www.cccfm.org, facebook.com/OrindaFarmersMarket and Instagram@OrindaFarmersMarket.